Pennsylvania

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DCED Secretary Weighs In On Future Of Natural Gas Industry

Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary, Alan Walker, says he isn’t worried about record-low natural gas prices.

Increased domestic supply has dropped the cost of gas to its lowest level in a decade, hurting drilling companies’ profits and in one extreme case, contributing to Chesapeake Energy’s $13 billion in debt.

But Walker, who ran a coal company for decades, says he’s confident the natural gas industry will keep growing. Capitolwire has more:

Walker said the low gas prices could lead to the development of new markets.

“What the Wall Street Journal hasn’t tied in yet is the petrochemical industry that can develop around the gas industry because of the inexpensive source of raw material,” he said.

Walker highlighted the Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement of early-stage planning for an ethane “cracker” in western Pennsylvania, which breaks down natural gas into ethylene used for plastics. “So if big corporations like Shell are making decisions like that, with all due respect to the Wall Street Journal, I think Shell’s research is as every bit as good as theirs. They’re not an impulsive company. They’re very deliberate,” he said.

Walker cited the recent announcement of a $500 million investment from Colorado-based MarkWest Energy Partners to purchase Keystone Midstream Energy Services in Butler County because of the close proximity to the proposed ethane cracker. “We’re already starting to see some of the side benefits of just one operation coming to western Pennsylvania, and there’s going to be a lot more,” Walker said.

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